FORTUNES for Hardwicke are turning around as One Stop Shop prepare to step into the black hole left by the village’s convenience store closing down.
The chain of local shops, which is a subsidiary of Tesco, looks set to take over the derelict Starting Gate pub and is currently drawing up plans.
It comes after the village store and post office closed down on January 7 after months of the shelves being run down by its owners.
Six employees, who have not been paid for months, look set to land jobs in the new store too.
Councillor David Mossman, chairman of Hardwicke Parish Council, who has led the talks with One Stop Shop, said: “One Stop have been expressing an interest in opening a store plus post office in the Hardwicke area, which the parish council has been involved with and encouraging.
“I am pleased to report that One Stop are now in negotiations with the new owners of the former Starting Gate pub and the Post Office with the aim of opening a new post office and store.
“We are 100 per cent behind this venture and whilst nothing is guaranteed or confirmed at this stage, it is expected to come to finalisation shortly.”
The Post Office have confirmed that they are committed to running a branch in the village.
Sandie Fear, former sub-postmistress, said: “I can’t go out of my front door without people asking me what is happening and when we are going to get a new post office.
“There are a lot of older people in the village and the post office is vital for them. At the moment they are all having to trek into town.
“We were hanging on in the hope that something would happen with the old shop but it hasn’t. This new plan is encouraging. It will be good to get the post office back open again.”
Final negotiations with the new owners of the Starting Gate pub are now taking place and these are expected to take four or five weeks. Plans are also being drawn up for what the new shop and post office could look like.